Seems like every time I flip on the interweb of tubes, I happen to come across articles like this, this and this. I can’t help but be overcome with an extreme case of FOMO, sort of like when I watch Alabama play in the national championship game. Foreign visitors to Japan often partake in one of the most famous past times in the land of the rising sun – buying KitKats. Not just any regular KitKats mind you, but exotic flavors that you can’t get in the states. Sadly, the exotic KitKat flavors are rotated on a seasonal basis. You can’t just show up to any random Family Mart and expect to load up your cart. Although, Family Mart is extremely cool. Your best bet is still duty free shops or department stores around Tokyo.
Our one respite is the fact that now, local CVS/Walgreens also carry the popular green tea flavors of KitKat as well as Marina supermarkets in San Mateo. Still, there are a bunch load of flavors that have never made it onto American shores. A crisis that no presidential candidate has ever addressed, making us wonder just what is happening to our tax dollars(we don’t need no stinkin’ roads).
Anyhow, here are some of the most exotic KitKat flavors that you can buy right now in Japan. While this is not an exhaustive list + impressions post, it does give you an idea of the scope of the KitKat empire in Japan.
Baked Sweet Potato
This Kitkat is distinguished by the fact that it can be eaten straight up out of the bag, or… baked. Yes, baked. I’m not talking about an EZ bake oven here. If you don’t believe me, this video will show you whats up. While that is cool, the fact that we are too lazy to pull out a baking sheet(or, we don’t know how to operate our office’s oven) means that we are eating it “raw.”
One sniff and you know you are biting into a sweet potato Kitkat. For no apparent reason, the taste reminds me of eating a baked potato that you can buy at a convenience store in Asia. Which, evidently means that this Kitkat would taste even better when you’ve downed a pine or three.
If you aren’t actively looking for ginger, then you will no doubt completely miss it. The taste is that light. Comparatively, the ginger Kitkat is more chocolatey than the others that we ate, so much so that the chocolate completely masks the ginger. Andy Blake says there is ginger, but I can’t say I’m completely sold.
Probably our least favorite of the bunch. It tastes too much like something from a box of See’s candy that you received from your secret santa at work. Obviously whoever that is, doesn’t like you that much because See’s candy is pretty gawd awful. The orange-y flavor mixed with the dark chocolate reminds me that I better be nice to my co-workers if I want a decent white elephant gift this year. The first bite, you are instantly hit with an influx of artificial orange flavor, but the aftertaste leaves your taste buds lingering with the taste of week old Tang. Only eat if you really like orange(or See’s candies).
You know those toilet paper commercials where the main actor frolics through a lush meadow of flowers and proudly proclaims how clean their butt is. No, eating this strawberry cheesecake flavored KitKat is nothing like that. However, that is not to say the delicious mix of strawberries and cheesecake doesn’t make for one mean KitKat(because it does).
This KitKat smells as advertised, with a rich, creamy strawberry aroma filling up every inch of your dual smelling holes(nose). The chocolate bar’s white features belie the strawberry taste that is evident in between the wafers. Mmmmm. Time to go back to Japan.
Green Tea Red Bean
Special edition of KitKats that are ball shaped instead of long chocolate/wafer bars. At its core, these taste like you are eating a bowl of shaved ice from the Taiwanese ice confectioners, Ice Monster. But its shape feels like you have two round objects rotating around your throat(har har har).
Comparatively, the green tea taste of these bigs balls are just as strong as the green tea KitKats. It wasn’t till you hit the center of the balls that you realize you are also tasting green tea. Definitely one of the more traditional tastes we’ve encountered on this “how low is your blood sugar” challenge.
O-M-G! Like the yeti, these wasabi KitKats are the stuff of legends and shaky Facebook pictures that give less details than a peep show(so we’ve heard). But our staff can most definitely verify that wasabi KitKats are the real deal.
While many would expect your eyes to water, your nostrils to flair and your mouth to be gashed with an explosion of wasabi flavors, these KitKats have the unexpected taste of green tea with only a hint of wasabi burn at the tail end. Frankly, if we didn’t tell you it was wasabi flavored, you would have never known.
Remember that one time you bit into a bowl of green tea ice cream only to realize way too late that it was in fact, wasabi? Well, tasting this KitKat will make up for all those disappointments. Plus, the pretty box makes this the perfect holiday stuffing stuffer.
Hokkaido Red Bean
Tastes like straight dark chocolate without any red beans. This might be the biggest disappointment of the bunch given the sweet looking box. Nothing to see here, move along.
Silky, creamy, white chocolate with a waft of rum. Not exactly what we expected, but boy, does it feel like Christmas here in the Foodamentals office. With something like rum and raising together, you would expect something darker and more alcohol tasting. The fact that it is white, gives us the impression it would taste more like white chocolate than anything else.
Boy, did it kill off all the misconceptions that we had.
When you open it up, there is no-freaking-doubt that this is rum flavored. The overwhelming smell of rum paired with a hint of sweetness is like a fashionable Starbucks drink done in the best possible way. There is a slightly grapey taste to it, rather than raisins, so that part, we really really like. Even after the chocolate makes it way down into your stomach, there is a delicious, sweet aftertaste that lingers for a brief second.
Overall, we like this flavor, we like it a lot. Hence, we have no problem declaring it the best flavor we have eaten here.
Sweet Purple Potato
This is probably the prettiest KitKat of them all with its light purple color. We couldn’t figure out why this was called sweet purple potato but thanks to a radio advertisement by Trader Joe’s, we think we have a good grasp on the potato not commonly found in US supermarkets.
Our first impression is that this must be a mistranslation of a purple yam, which are commonly found in Asian supermarkets. Its smell and taste reminded us of biting into a yam. Not content with our initial assessment, our second bite reminded me of biting into a roasted potato that you find at 7-Elevens in Taiwan. I mean, I guess we are in the vicinity.
Was it good? Yeah. Was it a potato? No. The following quote sums our impression up pretty succinctly.
Tastes like fucken yam – Andy
KitKat Chocolatory Special
The KitKat Chocolatory is a specialty counter/shop in various locations all around Tokyo. There is one in Daimaru department store above the Tokyo Main Station as well as in the Ikebukuro station. Either way, its a great stop to find out some specialty flavors that aren’t available at the duty free shops. The Chocolatory Special Gift box is a four flavor set that includes the following:
Pistachio and Raspberry
You smell the pistachio, but taste the raspberry, which trips the shit out of us. Is it good? Yes.
Yup, its strawberry and nothing else. There is a slight, feint, whiff of maple syrup in the beginning, but that quickly diminishes as you bite in and its nothing but strawberry. Not that I’m complaining…
Green Tea and Kinako
Kinako is roasted soy bean flour and is commonly found in Japanese desserts as toppings in mochi and other foods. Frankly, kinako isn’t something commonly found in the United States, so we probably aren’t in the position to tell you how closely the KitKat kinako maps to real kinako but hey, its our blog so we don’t really care. In the KitKat version, this just tastes like straight green tea matcha KitKat. No more, no less.
If it was straight butter, I would love it to pieces. I mean, who doesn’t like unabated, raw, butter flavor. The butter taste is really feint, instead overwhelmed by white chocolate. Think theatre popcorn with better texture.
Picture above. ‘Nuff said.